BACKGROUND: Different phenomena can result in enlargement of mental foramen and mandibular canal. At the foreground of diagnosis is the assessment of the biological properties of the tissue which causes such detailed lesions of the skeleton.
CASE REPORT: This report describes a palpable mass at the site of the mental foramen with radiological evidence of an extensive enlargement of the bony portion of the inferior alveolar nerve. These findings were the reason for surgical exploration. Surprisingly, the mass was inflammatory tissue that had proliferated in the canal and foramina. The lesion had grown around the nerve and did not infiltrate it. The diagnosis of lymphatic hyperplasia was made. Other potential causes of the unusual radiological and clinical findings are explained with reference to the literature.
CONCLUSION: Imaging does not provide a safe assessment of tumor biology. Surgical exploration with detailed tissue examination of the tumor provides the basis for appropriate therapy.